A Tale of Taking Uber from Kuta to Ubud, Bali (with a driver named Budi)

Posted by - March 9, 2016 | Category: Asia, Escapes, Indonesia

UPDATE: July 2017 — Uber is still available in Bali. Some websites are reporting that Uber is banned and only GrabCar and GrabTaxi are available. Happy to report Uber in alive and well and very much active in Bali. Here’s what Uber Indonesia had to say on Twitter…

I had wanted to name this post “Uber? Ubud. Ubud? Uber.” but stuck with the less snappy sounding “Uber from Kuta to Ubud” instead. Plus I thought the reference might be a tad obscure. (Letterman on the Oscars if you’re still wondering.)

finger pointing rightUber does offer a promo for new riders — sign up for Uber service and receive up to €10 off your first ride using the promo code RAYMONDW62

In any case, I’m an Uber fanboy when I travel (I’ve used the ride-sharing service in Sydney and Bangkok with great success), so when I saw that there was indeed Uber in Bali, well, it just warmed my cockles. It’s the next best thing to renting a car.


For me it’s the great equalizer when it comes to local transportation for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I don’t need to worry about getting ripped off — I can see on the Uber app exactly where I’m heading as well as the estimated time of arrival. Since it gets billed directly to my credit card I don’t have to worry about the “sorry Mistah, no change” argument, I don’t have to fumble looking for correct change, and I’ll never be given the wrong amount back. And I’ll never be scammed.

At least that’s what I was hoping.

More on that in a bit. In the meantime, here’s how my ride with Uber from Kuta to Ubud went down.

Uber From Kuta to Ubud

Uber from Kuta to Ubud Bali Denpasar airport Seminyak

My driver’s name was Budi, and as fate would have it, he’d been at the job for just one week. He said he’d been a mechanic prior to this gig, at least that’s what I gathered from the few English words he spoke. He also said he made more money as an Uber driver than from his old job. Which, when you see how much I paid for my transportation from Kuta to Ubud, makes me glad I’m not a mechanic in Bali.

I ordered my Uber ride from my hotel in Kuta (I stayed at Nakula Stay Kuta — huge rooms, excellent Wi-Fi, but a bit of a hike from the action, but you know what that means — it’s quiet!) Anyhow, the driver took a whopping 4 minutes to get to me. No pre-booking, no waiting. These Bali Uber drivers don’t pussy-foot around.

finger pointing rightClick here to download the Uber app for Apple iOs devices

Click here to download the Uber app for Android

There was only one small snag along the way. Budi asked me if I liked coffee. Well that’s like asking if I like oxygen, or baby pandas. “Of course I do Budi!” He suggested we stop for a quick coffee along the way, which sounded odd since the meter was running, but hey, this is Bali, so maybe this a thing here, and I’ll have a grand old tale to tell afterwards. “Get This — Uber Stops for Coffee in Bali!” I had the headlines dancing in my head already.

But this was no regular coffee, it’s Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee. You know — the stuff that’s made from coffee beans shit out of a rat-like animal’s ass. I’ve had it before in the Philippines, and although it’s pricey (i.e. the most expensive coffee in the world) it’s worth every penny. Or at least that’s what I used to think.


My driver told me the coffee would be 5000 IDR (about 50 cents Canadian), but of course it was going to cost a little more than that — 50,000 IDR to be exact. Money wasn’t the issue — as soon as we pulled up to the place (called Negari Luwak Coffee) I could see that it was a tourist trap. The lady who greeted us wanted to explain the beans and the different types and “here, smell how good it is!” I’m sure they would’ve gladly yanked a poor civet from its miserable cage so I could take a selfie, like many other tourists were doing. Being misled really turned me off the whole thing, and after I read how civets are treated in Indonesia, I was glad we didn’t get any of this “blood coffee.” I was out of there quicker than you can say Uber.

I’m not sure if Budi was in on it, like the scams in Bangkok where tuk-tuk drivers take you to overpriced attractions — he did seem as surprised as I was about the price — so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Just remember, if your driver asks if you want to stop for coffee along the way, just say no. Or say yes, and see for yourself the appalling conditions the civets live in. Just please don’t support them by buying anything.

Negari Luwak Coffee stop Bali

So how much did my Uber from Kuta to Ubud cost? My trip (with side trip stop for no coffee) cost a grand total of 124,000 Indonesian Rupiah (about 9.43 USD.) That’s a pretty cheap ride for private transportation that took a total of one hour and 23 minutes. Your ride should be cheaper since we stopped for 10 minutes or so at the coffee trap.

To put it in perspective, I’ve seen other blogs mention taxis that cost starting at 200,000 IDR (that’s if they use the meter of course,) and all the online info I could find regarding private transportation from Kuta to Ubud ran from a low of 300,000 IDR to a high of 500,000 IDR.  A cheaper option is the bus from Kuta to Ubud — it costs 80,000 IDR, but that doesn’t take you from door to door, and if you’re travelling with more people than just yourself, Uber makes a lot more sense financially.

Great deal Uber.

Cost of Uber from Kuta to Ubud Bali

Of course, wherever there is Uber, there is usually no shortage of controversy, and Bali is no exception. Walking around the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak area I noticed several signs from local groups protesting Uber’s presence in Bali.

No Uber No GrabTaxi sign in Bali

Most of these signs are placed by local transportation and taxi companies, since they’ve felt the burn since Uber and its ilk arrived.

Basangkasa village Bali No Uber No GrabTaxi service sign

GrabTaxi is another option similar to Uber that also operates in parts of Southeast Asia, including Bali (I’ve used them in Bangkok before.) GrabTaxi offers cash payments, something that Uber has been experimenting with in Bali as well.

finger pointing right

Haven’t signed up for GrabTaxi yet?

Click here to get up to $8 off your first ride with GrabTaxi.

If you’re in the market for something a little more upscale, Blacklane Chauffeur Service is available in Bali now as well. I’ve booked their limousine service in London before (because sometimes you just need to treat yo’self) and the service is impeccable.

finger pointing right

Haven’t signed up for Blacklane?

Click here to get started.

So the question is, is it possible to take Uber from Denpasar airport to Ubud directly? I don’t see why not. If you pull Ubud up as your destination within the app and the driver accepts, who am I to say no.

So the question is, is it possible to take Uber from Denpasar airport to Ubud directly? I don’t see why not. If you pull Ubud up as your destination within the app and the driver accepts, who am I to say no.

It’s worth noting that you can take an Uber from Kuta to Ubud, but you can’t take an Uber from Ubud to Kuta, or Seminyak, or the Denpasar airport, or anywhere else really. Ubud is not in the Uber pickup zone. Hopefully that changes soon. (NOTE: After posting this article, Uber Bali contacted me to say that as of January 1, 2016 Ubud is now in the Uber pickup zone, so it is indeed possible to take Uber from Ubud to Kuta, Seminyak, or Denpasar Airport. Thanks Uber!)

finger pointing right*Uber does offer a promo for new riders — sign up for Uber service and receive up to $15 off your first ride using the promo code RAYMONDW62

Note: I’m not affiliated with Uber or GrabTaxi or Blacklane in any way, shape, or form. I just really like their service, cockle-warming as it is, but we both receive a free ride if you use my code. 

Have you used Uber on any of your travels?

Antique bed Hotel PhotoBecause you’re using Uber, I know you like to save money on your travels. Did you know HotelsCombined compares hotel rooms prices from ALL the top travel sites in one simple search? Plus there’s no booking fee. 

Click here to compare hotel prices in Kuta, Bali


Click here to compare hotel prices in Ubud, Bali


Tags: , , , , , ,

Subscribe to the Man On The Lam Newsletter

Get a monthly round-up of travel & lifestyle articles, plus unique content & hush-hush extras only for members.

40 comments - add one
  1. I am glad you made a good choice of getting out of this ‘blood coffee trap’, it feels awful to read about the treatment meted to the civets! Uber is indeed convenient, reliable and easy.

  2. Uber is getting a lot of press in Toronto these past few months as it just arrived on the scene here. The Taxi Drivers Association has been staging protests by blockading main streets in the downtown area. They’re upset because Uber drivers don’t have to follow the same set of licensing rules as they do because the City of Toronto hasn’t prepared for this alternative transit service yet. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in 2016. I will probably start using Uber once the dust settles here.

    1. I’ve seen this played out in a number of cities, which is too bad, but I do understand the taxi drivers’ anxiety when their livelihoods are endangered. Still, if taxi rates were more competitive with Uber there wouldn’t be this problem at all. 🙂

  3. Cool, I had no idea that Über was in Asia. It looks like the most sensible option for the trip as well. Too bad that you didn’t get to try an authentic Kopi Luwak coffee 🙁

  4. My experiences with Uber have been great so far. I really like that they’re open with the driver’s information, makes traveling anywhere feel a lot safer! I also feel like its a safety net if I lose my wallet, I can still catch a ride home and not have to worry about having cash. The fun drivers are always a plus too!

  5. That’s pretty cheap for over an hour drive. I guess that’s the going rate for Asia. I had a bad experience in Madrid when my cousins drop me off at my hotel and the taxi drivers lined up outside the hotel called the police on him saying he was a Uber driver. The police pulled him over and questioned him, but when he told them he was dropping off his family they let know go. It’s a terrible thing that many counties are trying to get tourist not to use the service. I’m pretty happy with not having to pay cash or providing a credit card for my ride. So I’m pleased to hear that I can get an Uber in Asia as well.

  6. 124,000 Raymond! Well done dude!

    We spent 6 months in Jimbaran last year, very close to Kuta, and they always quoted 200,000 to Ubud as you noted. Brilliant.

    As for the anti-Uber sentiment I can see it, thinking like a transport driver. I always rent a motorbike and drive it anywhere save longer trips but when we get transports I see the mentality. Anything that they perceive to eat into their fares is frowned upon. As a boolie (sp), I’m all for Uber there.

    Cool post!

    1. Thanks Ryan! I think that many taxi drivers believe that since things have been done that way for so long that they’re surprised when someone comes in and upsets the model. I’ll be a Uber fan for life. 🙂

  7. lol at the coffee trap. Good thing to note! That is an incredible fare for such a long ride. And your right, if he made more driving then his other job then wow! Did you get a sim card while you were there for your phone?

    1. I did indeed get an Indonesian SIM card! I’m here for a month so got 8GB of data since I wasn’t sure how good the Wi-Fi would be — it was only 250,000 IDR (about $18 USD) for the month. 🙂

  8. Wow. I thought you were going to be scammed. But nice to read that it was a cheap ride. Not so nice to read about the civets though. I’ve used uber and grab here in the Philippines as I now have a phobia of taking the regular taxis. I still have yet to use them abroad. Will try one day. 😊

  9. I’ve actually never tried Uber… HAHA well mainly because I’ve been based in Europe the past years and the public transportation already works really great (if not cheaper). But I bet that once I get back to Asia, I’ll be using one.

    Anyhow, this is such an entertaining read! For a moment there I thought you were about to be scammed haha.

    1. You should get on the Uber bandwagon ASAP! 🙂

      I see what you mean though — it’s so easy to get around most places in Europe that it only makes sense for after-hours trips mostly.

  10. Great story! I’ve only used Uber once which was when I was in Amsterdam, but other than that I never even considered it for my journeys. Like in Bali, there is heavy protesting here against it, but I can totally see how it makes travel easier and more affordable, esp. with the rate you mention for a private transfer …

  11. I LOVE Uber! I live in Mumbai and if it wasn’t for Uber I swear I would never get anywhere in this city – the other companies are completely unreliable. Of course, they all hate Uber. There was a big taxi strike here a few weeks back though and Uber were the only ones still operating – I think they gained a whole new fanbase that day 😀

  12. It’s amazing to see Uber in Indonesia! You’re story is definitely an interesting one. I heard it’s being banned from Brampton and Mississauga, which is a pity, but not surprising.

  13. Ohhh Raymond you are a freaking legend. Just the article I needed – mmmwwwaaaah Thanks heaps oxo
    P.s. when are we going to be in the same place at the same time again? Bangkok last year was far to short 🙁

  14. I’m staying in Bali at the moment and have used Ubur a few times to get around.

    Just had an interesting experience getting one from Ubud. Hadn’t read this post and ended up having a local taxi driver running after the ubur car smacking the back window and shouting a lot.

    With hindsight and a bit of research I now know not to get them near other cab people/companies. Also explains why I had three ubur drivers cancel on me just before pick up…..

    Was livid at the time but totally understand now why they did it now. Was standing in a cabby ‘hot spot’.

    1. Glad you made it through the experience! I got the distinct feeling in Bali as well that Uber drivers were not welcome at all since they were challenging the status quo. There seems to be a bit of a taxi oligopoly in Bali where a few taxi companies control the market, collude on rates, and otherwise just rip tourists off. I’m always happy to see Uber emerge in a new market. They provide jobs for people outside the taxi company cycle of nepotism, and fairer rates for travellers in general. Plus I don’t need to nag them to turn on the meter. 🙂

  15. Hey! Nice article!
    I’m in Bali at the moment. Tried uber a few days ago to go from uluwatu to canggu. But when i booked the driver, he called me to say it was too dangerous to pick me up over there.. so i called a blue bird taxi :/
    Tomorrow i’m planning on going from canggu to ubud. Hope uber will pick me up this time, so i can save some money 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing the info Tess! I recall seeing signs posted by taxi companies claiming that Uber in Bali was not legal. I took Uber from Seminyak beach to Ubud a few times, but I admit the reverse was a bit difficult — there just didn’t seem to be that many drivers available at all, especially if you are staying north of the town. Enjoy the rest of your time on Bali — I really enjoyed my stay there.


Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.